There are plenty of funny books, but it’s rare to find one that makes me literally laugh out loud. Most of the time I think “That’s funny” and then read on. I might I say “Heh” to myself, quietly – or loudly, if I want someone to ask what I’m reading. But with these books, I had to laugh. I couldn’t help it!
Never fear, no spoilers here 😊
1. Victorian-era slapstick
“The result was not altogether the success that Harris had anticipated … Six eggs had gone into the frying-pan, and all that came out was a teaspoonful of burnt and unappetising looking mess. Harris said it was the fault of the frying-pan…”
Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K Jerome, 1889
Three friends and a dog take a fortnight boating trip on the Thames River. It’s a tongue in cheek examination of the minutiae of life, a hundred years before Seinfeld. Jerome wrote it after honeymooning with his wife on the Thames; I can’t help wondering what their trip could have been like, if this book was based on it.
I follow hubbie around the house, reading long passages of this book aloud at him, and he’s nice enough to laugh at most of them. It contains some dubious attitudes of the time, and one word that’s very offensive now (I’ve crossed it out in my copy). But I think it’s worth skimming these to go on to the historical snippets, the sweetly philosophical musings, and the self-deprecating humour.
I stopped reading to laugh out loud when they tried to open the pineapple tin.
2. Sci-fi dystopia
“What goes through a man’s thoughts as he stands there waiting to be cast off? It couldn’t be mere fear, for Juliette had tasted that well enough. It had to be something beyond that, a wholly unique sensation, the calm beyond the pain, or the numbness beyond the terror.”
Wool, by Hugh Howey, 2013.
Juliette and her whole community live inside a massive underground silo to avoid the toxic world outside. Now she’s battling to stay alive while investigating murder and government conspiracy.
This is not a funny book. But it IS amazing, absorbing, and immersive. I felt like I was living in the silo. I haven’t even read the sequel Shift, because I loved Wool so much. Others clearly loved it too but expressed themselves differently, because there’s a lot of Woolly fan fiction out there. In fact Hugh Howey has given other writers permission to set their own stories in the Wooliverse.
I stopped reading to laugh out loud when Juliette finally jumped one step ahead of the baddie. I still feel like laughing now, remembering it. He didn’t see it coming, he had no idea, bwa-ha-ha! (triumphant non-evil laugh)
Just a heads-up, Wool is a collection of five novellas, which you can also buy or borrow separately. It can be a bit confusing.
3. Pokes fun at some aspects of religion but never at faith
“Ruined the whole effect right at the beginning [of the children’s talk] with a stupid, unintentional Spoonerism.
I said, ‘Once upon a time there was a crappy little gab called Hordon.’
Short, shocked, uncomprehending silence…”
The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, Christian Speaker, Aged 45 3/4, by Adrian Plass, 1996.
Kind, bumbling Adrian (not the author) battles to trust in God through an unusually comedic and messy life. His first book is a success and the speaking invitations keep coming, but whenever his head starts to swell, his family and friends yank him back down to earth.
This is the first sequel to The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, Aged 37 ½, which I saw on my grandpa’s coffee table when I was little and remembered when I was older. I accidentally got hold of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole first, which puzzled me. Then I found the right one.
I stopped reading to laugh out loud when Adrian tried to organise dinner orders at the Indian restaurant.
Disclaimer: Most books are written by human beings, so they are not perfect, and we can easily find flaws in them (possibly huge flaws). The authors probably lived in different times and places to us, so we might not connect with their writing or like them at all. The opinions in this post are mine, current at the date of publication, shared for entertainment purposes, and may change in the future. The books I write about are for adults unless stated, though some of them could be okay for younger readers. This post contains no affiliate links, only links to things I like 😊